The castle of Trani was rebuilt by the emperor Federico II° on the bring of the homonym city, today in province in Bari, between 1230 and 1233. The following and more meaningful changes had realized in the XVI° century, under the empire of Charles V° and consisted in the reinforcement of the surrounded building for the adaptation of the fortification to the use of the new fire weapons.
This siege map pits you against a formidable castle and numerous troops (as an attacker) and an easy to defend fortress (as a defender). The map is designed to impress and to ensure a full scale siege can be witnessed, but it doesn't quite work. As a defender, even on very hard setting and allowing the AI to amass the largest army against you, the castle is too easy to defend. Moving archers and crossbowmen to the east side of the castle where the only entrance is located will be sufficient to defend against all attacks. Things improve as an attacker but a little patience and sacrificing some of your troops to set off the pitch ditches will allow you to pick off enough archers and crossbowmen to ensure you can break in without too much fuss. As a defender there is little to do and it is too easy to win with no troop losses. Attacking is better but still troop losses were only 53%. The map works okay and plays well enough, but it is all to predictable.
The scenario and the download description does not indicate if this is to be defended or attacked, therefore both options were explored here and all scores are based on this. Linking on from above, if you play as an attacker a certain amount of skill is required to win and a good combination of troops will ensure you can take out the defending archers and crossbowmen. These two units form your biggest obstacle as their sheer numbers can wreak havoc. But this is a classic example of how not to design a siege map. Overuse of archers and crossbowmen becomes rather formulaic in siege maps. In addition, the pitch ditches are huge, and I mean huge, and overuse of this defensive aid can, and has, ruined what could have been a better scenario to play. The overzealous archers will ignite any pitch ditch when your attacking units are seven or more, and a sally attack by my knights was sufficient to excite the archers into action. With these major obstacles overcome, attacking the castle becomes easy.
As a defender, and commented on above, you simply move all your archers and crossbowmen to defend the gatehouses. Nothing can get past a defending force this big and the AI struggled with the pre-built castle design, sending relatively small attacks what were easy to pick off.
Credit to the designer for an attempt at recreating what I presume is a real castle in Italy. I'm not convinced that the depiction is sufficiently realistic to justify awarding a higher score though. Aside from this, creativity is standard for a relatively straightforward siege map. Not a bad effort overall, but nothing here that sets the fires of scenario design alight.
Map Design: 3
The castle is reasonably well modelled. It functions well enough but there are few signs of life and no real atmosphere within the castle walls. The design takes on a regulated appearance and is more functional than visually enticing. The landscape surrounding the castle though is rather poor, relatively featureless and a bit bland. It is easy to scorn a map that was made some five years ago when the standard of designers wasn't as accomplished as it is now (Jan 2008) but siege maps do not need to have the landscape neglected. What has been offered overall is an impressive pre-built castle/fortress and this is generally well done.
The Download Description page, whilst a little disjointed to read, offers a basic introduction to the history of the castle, but is is very basic and lacking in content. The zip file contains a minimap and a picture of what I again assume is the actual castle Quartum-Trani is based on. This is pleasing to see, but i'd prefer to have far more content and a much more detailed article on the history of the castle.
Not a bad siege map, but definitely one to play as an attacker on hard or very hard setting.